Traveling with Lewy


Tomorrow we will have been gone for two weeks. We did the 16 hours (more if you count the slowdowns around Chicago) in two blocks and managed our night in the motel without difficulty.

In Pennsylvania we had sleeping quarters that were somewhat small so I opted for another room and gave Dennis the bed on the main floor close to the bathroom. The temperature regulation problem was one of the first things I noticed. There was a heat wave around the whole country at that time and Dennis’s head was getting hot all the time – only his head. He started putting a wet washcloth under his hat and wearing it most of the time. Of course, this discovery of efficient cooling had to be shared with everyone – they had to try it, and he was always telling me how everyone loved it.

The rest of his body was often cold. Since there wasn’t central AC in the house, his room was warm enough at night to please him. He often complains of sweating and freezing at the same time, so it is very hard to know what to do for him.

Dennis in his cooling hat.

Behavior wise, I did not notice big changes from previous times at home. He was often dramatic in his lectures and stories, often weepy and emotional. It was usually in a grateful way but toward the end he was getting depressed, it seemed to me. He was concluding that all were getting dementia and declining, especially his sister. Somehow the family history of heart problems was also getting lumped in with dementia and becoming the tell tale symptoms of “fatty liver” disease, which he thinks is his correct diagnosis because that is familial. LBD is not familial and the doctors wouldn’t have diagnosed him that way had they known his family history. Somehow he thinks that they skipped that part of his exam at Mayo.

Another behavioral thing I’ve noticed lately is that he isn’t able to sit for very long, especially on hard chairs. He feels he has lost all his cushioning fat and gets sore quickly. Of course he has even less tolerance of standing, so that leaves lying down. He does a lot of that. He was often sleepy in Pennsylvania and much of the visiting went on around him as he slept in his chair.

The day’s drive to North Carolina was uneventful. We didn’t have a heavy breakfast before we left so he wanted to stop for lunch. We pulled off and took what we found that wasn’t fast food – Golden Corral. He went in and sat down. I had to load his plate for him so he wouldn’t get confused with all the choices. I found a good, simple meal for him so he was satisfied, but I noticed that he was easily confused, sleepy afterwards in the car, and anxious for the trip to be over. He’s starting to think that the truck electronics are causing him to feel bad during travel. He thought it had to be the Bluetooth technology but I told him the phone was connected by wire to the truck, so he’s re-thinking that and I’m sure he will come up with something.

In North Carolina, he is back on what he calls his “regimen”, of which magnesium is a part (he has always been on that), and periods of autophagy. He loves to use that word. He wants a substantial breakfast, no lunch, and an early supper. That gives him a day time autophagy and a night time one. Every day he tells me which things have improved. His whistle came back today. Yesterday he wanted to know if I would celebrate with him as he had been able to spend time on the computer and had walked outside for a few minutes as well. One day he was excited that he had executed the complicated maneuver of setting his coffee cup on a dresser a short distance away from his chair – actually did it twice. It doesn’t take much to constitute improvement.

Here at Julie’s, the temperature problem is worse. The first night in a comfortably air conditioned room nearly froze him to death. I was loving it. However, he has no trouble asking that everyone accommodate his idiosyncrasies. We have had to go without the AC and use only the fans, accompanied by the lecture about how moving air will make you feel cool even when you are hot. What!? No way! Julie needs her sleep and opens a window after it cools down outside. I, on the other hand, do not need to sleep in a cool room, I guess.

I had to give away my piano when we left Florida and we talked about replacing it someday with something more portable like a nice keyboard. Since Greensboro is a fairly large city with a few music stores I wanted to look for a keyboard while visiting here. Dennis was all for it until we were sitting in the store surrounded by all kinds of electronics when it occurred to him that a keyboard was a digital instrument with electricity involved. The sounds are not real, they are electronic reproductions. He even woke up that night very confused, saying he felt like he was not real himself and in an unfamiliar world. I can feel him eyeing my new keyboard and getting anxious. I’m thinking I will have to refrain from using it around him and keep it covered at home, if we ever get to live at home again.

One day I overheard him telling some actually untrue things to someone on the phone. One of the things was that the farmhouse Julie’s boyfriend had bought was unlivable, and was going to take all kinds of renovation before it could be lived in. It made me realize that he doesn’t hear details correctly and makes wrong assumptions. Another thing was the “fatty liver” disease he has, which made me realize that even when he’s told details, he reverts to thinking his delusions anyway.

He wants to go home by way of my brother’s house in Michigan, an 11 hour travel day. This is probably what we will do, but until today I had not verified arrangements with my brother. This morning Dennis asked Julie to pray about us going there as he had a special reason for wanting time there. I was a bit suspicious about him asking her, but not telling me so I talked with him about it. He said it was not any of the reasons I thought, but still has not told me what it is. I think I’m worried…


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